In a soaking August haze, he slowly packs
the car so an evening breeze off Lake Superior
can comfort him twelve hundred miles away
beneath icy stars that pierce an asphalt sky.
One clear morning, he will hike a shaded
forest path to a brook he waded once seeking
tiny wild trout: dazzling, dappled relics from
ten thousand years before the logging roads.
He will linger when he finds the bend where,
stiff from standing in the stream, he saw
incised in sand where he was about to step
a paw print broad as his outstretched fist.
Pausing in the stillness of clustered pines,
the tug of water through a dense wood flowing,
the silence along a pathway lately taken,
he tamped his startled pulse with gratitude.
He doesn’t pack his fly rod anymore or
binoculars or birding guides. He prefers
to sit in dappled sunlight on an ancient
stump, listening to the stories of the leaves.
Raymond Byrnes, retired from the U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat program, lives in Virginia, where he competes with deer and squirrels for ripe tomatoes. His recent poems have appeared in Typishly, Better Than Starbucks, Eclectica, and are forthcoming in Chest (an international medical journal), Sky Island Journal, Split Rock Review, and Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Poetry Anthology.